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Hardball With Chris Matthews

News/Business. (2012) (CC)

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Paul Ryan 11, Us 9, Obama 9, Joe Biden 9, America 7, Biden 5, Jim Lehrer 4, Afghanistan 4, Steve 4, Denver 3, Vietnam 3, Howard Fineman 3, Joan Walsh 3, Michael Steele 3, Ryan 3, Clinton 3, Bill Clinton 3, Soothe 2, Joan 2, United States 2,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business.  (2012)  (CC)  

    October 3, 2012
    7:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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will either remain president or be president. they must gain the trust and faith of the american people. that's what all of us will be looking for tonight. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. rocky mountain high! let's play "hardball"! ♪ good evening. i'm chris mathews at the university of denver. let me start with the big debate. which of the two guys can make the latest gaffe or launch the most deadly zinger? that's the word romney's people. is this the dean martin rose to don rickles, is that the part
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we're casting here? sorry. i thought it was president of the united states. the person who will lead the west, lift this country up from long economic struggle, take us to a stronger, fair american future. i'm looking for the big thought tonight, the fresh, crisp, candid thinking that is the very essence of any set of solutions we can come up with. a fear a sling shot war, pestering salvos, crating bites for the next tv ads, words to be packaged and pitched out to us as examples of spontaneous vision and uncanny wisdom. i'm looking for the real thing. smart calls to action by someone who knows his number one job is simply to tell us what needs to be done. i'm joined by former white house press secretary dee dee myers and howard fineman.
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how does mitt romney overcome the last two months or so of bad campaigning? where he has been over the london olympics and over the libya and their feelings about the economy, how does he build up his presidentialness and bring down the economy aspects all in one night? we >> well, tonight chris, we see the real mitt romney. he's going to have to answer questions and make an argument. he's going to have to explain where he wants to lead the country. we live in momentous times. what is his plan to move the american people forward? i think they are going to take his measure tonight. >> would you lay out the map if you were him? would you tell him how he's going to stimulate economic growth by cutting taxes and
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getting rid of deductions? would you tell the american people exactly or even generally what you're actually going to do? >> well, i'm with you, chris. i think plat tuds and zingers don't work in a format like this. he has to have a good debate. he has to pass president obama in the polls if he's to be elected president, obviously. tonight, at a moment of peril for the country, where we have challenges abroad, severe challenges domestically, how do we restore our balance sheet in this country, how do we deal with the challenges abroad? we live in a serious time. and improvement and understanding in the race and
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transaction by question. >> just out today, the race is tied and obama up by seven and the latest nbc wall street journal poll. >> a new poll from telemundo, obama is up by 50, howard, among hispanics. let's go to howard fineman. back to my big question. he's had a terrible month or two. he does not look presidential. bill clinton and the president have been able to build up the notion that the economy's better than we thought. 57% of the people think that the economy is getting better. what a dramatic advantage. >> well, i agree with steve.
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this is mitt's moment. he said months ago to supporters just wait until i get on the stage with the president. just wait until i get to confront him, when i get to explain my version of reality versus his. that's when i'm going to shine. and he has to do it tonight. i agree with you and steve, that he has to be specific. he has to be detailed. partly because people haven't warmed to mitt romney as a person. they don't really trust him yet as a person. all the more important that he set out a specific plan, that makes sense. and that he does it in a humane way. i agree with steve. he has to be -- it's okay if he's serious but he has to make it clear that he wants the job. he wants to be hired by the american people for this job because he wants to help all of the american people. >> here's the problem -- >> and not just the rich people that he grew up with. >> howard, you hit on the problem. he's got a surrogate, bill
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clinton, a former president who has the mojo now. will clinton be haunted tonight by the 47%? here's bill clinton today freshly in new hampshire taking on romney on that very point, setting him up tonight to have to respond. let's watch. >> i couldn't believe the other day when the president's opponent said that the 47% of the american people who don't pay income tax just want to hang around and be dependent on the government and we have to wean him off of that because we don't want to pay income tax. now, the guy with a tax account in the cayman islands attacking people -- you've got to give him credit, like i said -- >> he's calling people a bunch
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of bums for people that pay taxes and then wait a minute, look at your tax account. it's hard to respond to and clinton makes it fun, too. >> the masterful speech at the democratic convention, in new hampshire, one of the key swing states, whenever you can laugh a little bit about your opponent, usually scoring good points on him. i do think that clearly mitt romney has not gotten out from the 47% comment. he's going to be confronted with it tonight. what's he going to say. how he's going to respond? how's he going to look at the approxima president and look at the cameras and say what he meant to say versus what he said? it's such a constricted and view of the country and so many voters are in fact republican voters and the reason that don't pay income taxes is because of republican policies. you're going to have to get over
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that tonight. >> his traveling body has come up with worse. paul ryan is saying 70% of the country is free loaders. only 30% want to be but 70% are. why are they declaring war on the great bulk of the american people? i want to go to hugh ward with this. i've never seen where you slice -- in this case, ryan has 30% and -- >> chris, it's because they are repeating paul ryan is still repeating the kinds of lines and red meat rhetoric that he used for the conservative base when he was running for vice president, when he was running to get mitt romney's attention. that is not his audience now. his audience has shifted totally to the idealogs in the base and the people he grew up in janesville, wisconsin. that's who he should be talking about. >> we have videotape today. this is what is going on, steve. we're going back and digging up
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stuff. the tape always looks brand new and how he has to -- this is paul ryan on fox this sunday saying he doesn't have time to go over how he's going to find all of this tax money to make up for these cuts. here he is. >> how much would it cost? >> it's ref neutral. it doesn't cost -- >> i'm talking about -- we'll get to the deductions. but the cut in tax rates. >> the cut in tax rates is lower -- all american tax rates by 20%. >> how much does it cost? >> it's revenue neutral. it works and you can -- >> but i have to -- you haven't given me the math. >> well, i don't have the -- it would take me too long to go through all of the math. >> you know, tonight, jim lehrer, he's a great moderator. take all of the time you want. take my time to explain how you're going to do it. yesterday romney himself told a local denver station that part of his tax plan might include a
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cap on deductions at 17,000 a person which would not hurt billionaires at all like him. let's take a look. >> you could say everybody's going to get up to $17,000 deduction and you can use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction or others, health care deduction and you can fill that bucket, if you will, the $17,000 bucket and higher income might have a lower number or you could do it by the same method that bowles/simpson did it, which is limiting certain deductions but that's the sort of thing that -- >> well, his tighing would take him past 17%. his spokesman made clear, this is one of the policy options romney was considering. in other words, if you want specifics, don't count on this. howard, this is the problem the more he teases it and pulls back, the more he looks like -- >> the more he teases it, the more confusion he sews and a contrast still with his own
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situation. the guy who has 100 million ira, which is like unheard of. the guy who like president clinton has said has taken advantage of every legal tax advantage that he possibly can is throwing out a limit of $17,000 in deductions for families that consider themselves middle class, that's a pretty low sealin >> yeah, he's bringing in $10 million in income. steve, you have a big mind about this thing. basically, get your runner on, get him over, and get him in, advance the batter or go for the fences, what would you do tonight if you were romney? >> well, i think you have to go out there and give him rationale where does he want to lead the country? it's unclear and the hour is getting late. he has one of his last
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opportunities to be able to do that tonight. he has one big thing going for him in this race. the structure of this race, chris, is 51/47. that's the ceilings and the floors for both candidates. the race is not going to spread much beyond that. no matter how bad a campaign they run, mitt romney is going to be in the game here all the way to the end. he's not going to have to overcome 8, 9 point deficits to try to get into it. he needs to go out there and communicate in a clear way where he wants to lead the country. what is the alternative vision that he has vis-a-vis the president and he's been unable to communicate that over the entirety of the election. tonight is one of his last chances to start doing it. >> let me give you another scenario and that is that the president has a good night tonight. he gets it up to 51, as you say, and the other guy is going down and very few opportunities left.
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that would be a bad night for mr. romney. thank you, howard fineman, and steve schmidt. coming up, how will we know who wins tonight's debate? it's not like there is an official scorecard but experts will look at everything. we'll give you an idea of how to look at this thing realtime. and also caught on tape, yesterday "the huffington post" reported paul ryan saying 30% of americans wanted a welfare state and jumped on joe biden as well saying that the middle class has been buried. the running mates are causing some headaches. plus, i have some questions of my own for the candidates. i'm going to ask michael steele and joan walsh to fill in for barack obama. can they answer questions? i'm going to show you what i'm going to be looking for. and then i'll join rachel mad do
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you for an hour long show for tonight's debate. join us for the full coverage. and then at midnight eastern, i'll be back for the a special late edition of "hardball," a show with lots of results. we'll tell you who won. this is "hardball," live from denver, the first presidential debate. humans -- even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why, at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at libertymutual.com. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? if we took theissan altima and reimagined nearly everything in it?
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moments in debate history. >> it's not like what is your philosophy and position on issues but can you get things done? and i believe i can. >> anyway, 1992, in a debate conducted in a town hall format, he was seen checking his watch. there he is. a move that telegraphed boredom. he may have been counting the time for ross perot. in 2008 john mccain showed his frustration when he referred to barack obama as that one. let's listen. >> it was an energy bill on the floor of the senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies and it was sponsored by bush and cheney. you know who voted for it? that one. you know who voted against it? me. >> any way, what will be the clues to oh tell us in realtime who is winning? we'll go to a columnist for the
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washington post and mark halperin. i want be to start with dana. i love your attitude. any way, what's your first way of looking at this? how do you know who is winning? >> well, i'm watching it in the filing center. i'm going to do a grown and laugh index. if you're growning when the guy is talking, he's losing. if you're laughing, that's better. you can do that for yourself at home. if you're cringing, the guy is not winning. romney has set this up in terms of zingers. >> why does it get out that he couldn't sleep last night? everything seems to leak out of this campaign. is he landing the zingers or do they boomerang next to him? ultimately, is he able to land a serious blow. if we're debating this on points, if it's about the spin, romney lost. he needs to open this -- >> if you're jim lehrer, do you
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have the right or protocol to say to a guy who has delivered an manicured polished up thing you've been working on for three weeks to say, can we limit ourselves to a spontaneous conversation here? can you actually say that? or will the audience spot it and say, that's a prefab job that his guys thought up two weeks ago and he's reciting like a parrot? >> i don't think jim lehrer needs to. >> okay. the knockout blow. are we going to see it when we hear? >> i think you will. the people in the hall missed it during the infamous gore debate because we didn't hear the sign. if you have that awkward moment and people jump back, that's the sort of thing that can change the trajectory. >> mark, your thoughts. processing answers, like bob bowl when he says that bill is a markup. >> exactly.
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i can get this out of conference. we can go forward. i think that a lot of the discourse in politics and in debates can be about process, about who's got a plan or why you've done a certain thing. often one candidate will try to accuse another. the think the winner is the one who sticks to, what do the american people care about? how to specific the economy and don't get bogged down in the process. it's easy to flip. >> do you think it's a problem -- you talk about being optimistic. these guys are used to throwing red meat out, getting nurtured. the rules are -- there is no noise, no reaction. so you throw out what you think is the line of the sencentury. do you think that's going to -- >> if somebody is optimistic, it's going to play in the hall fun. but it will play better on tv. ronald reagan and bill clinton. say your opponent's record is
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bad and still be optimistic about america and i think both of these guys forget to think that the president's a little better on it. romney is an optimistic guy. he will be better for himself if he focuses on optimism. >> talk about strength. >> the republican strategist talks about this all the time. the moments that matter are moments where you do something to show that you're a strong leader and either by implication or a frontal attack the other person is not as strong. reagan and clinton are masters of this, through their demeanor, ceasing the moment, it will be played over and over again of strength, not weakness. >> my real prickish question, a difficult one. the alien from abroad, and he looked at it and said, who is that guy? and he said, it's romney.
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it seems to be out of the normal conduct of people thaw meet. it seems odd. >> all of the polls have said two to one that they expect obama to outperform romney. so in that sense if he gets up there on the stage and realizes that he's not an alien, looks like he has a pulse -- >> if you went to mitt romney's rally this week compared to february, you would see no appreciable performance. if he can do it, rise to occasion, explain why he would be a better president, do it tonight in front of tens and millions. >> i saw him do that twice. the day he picked ryan, he was alive and also at the convention acceptance speech. i thought that was a great performance. >> no one comes back from a deficit without reaching inside of themselves and seizing the moment. he did it the night of the new
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hampshire primary. i've seen him do it a few other times. he's not going to do it consistently. >> the second answer we'll know. >> i think you'll see it in his -- look, he has never disappointed in a debate but i think he needs to do more than hold his own. he needs to -- >> so i see them as one boxer -- there's this boxer, one punch and it's the economy and then i see obama who is a better boxer, he can move around fast, in and out. obama is going to try to avoid that punch. that is boom. how come the economy is so bad? >> the president has been in a title fight before. mitt romney has done a lot of debates before but not like this. on the economy, he's got to strike a balance all year and as of late, things are not where we want them to be but here are ways that we are moving forward. i think the president has got that wrapped down.
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>> would you go for the home run or for the bases? >> 90 minute of showing his heart and that would be a home run if he did that. >> i think he needs to be better than that. obama is going to land a punch. >> thank you very much, mark and dana. as we go to break, we've got new poll numbers from our nbc wall street marist poll. in florida, president obama is a one-point lead over romney. in virginia, president -- another tight one, 48, 46. and up over 8 over romney, 51 to 43. stay tuned for our first presidential debate. more live from denver right after this. there is no soviet domination of etern europe and there never will be under ford administration. ♪ home of the brave.
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beautiful university, the night of the debate. who's the question for in. >> i'm hoping to ask president obama, will we see more prosecutions of wall streets, the mess they made. >> for who? >> president obama. >> you have a question for who? >> for mitt romney, are you a robot and, if so, where is your on/off switch so we can switch you off. >> question for who? >> i do not have a question. >> are you going to vote to this year? >> yes, i am going to vote. >> for mitt romney, what loopholes -- >> that's my question, too. >> for president obama, how do you plan on closing the deficit. >> how does the bomb in syria change the policies in the foreign east. >> what?
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>> turkey and syria, just he is ask lated the syrian conflict. >> what side of the fence are you on? >> i don't have a dog in the race yet. i'm just curious on what the policy will be. >> you're not turkish are you? >> no. >> i've been in health care for 37 years as a provider and i am completely 100% for the affordable health care act. thank you president obama. >> i just want to know what we're going to do about the student's act. >> what percentage do you pay in interest? >> well, mine's a government debt. i don't have any private debt. >> i paid 3% in college. >> happy anniversary, mr. president. >> 20th anniversary. >> who is going to cut the spending? who is it? it's romney. >> can i ask a question, please? >> sure. >> go ahead. i want to know what mitt
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romney's policy is on cancer. she relies on social security and medicare. she's not a lazy person. she worked and it's dependent for them to provide car care. i want to know what his policy is. >> we're curious about israel, how the relations are going to happen. >> regardless, we have obama or romney. >> thank you. let's go down here. do you have any questions? >> i have a question for romney. >> sure. >> i want to know where is the evidence that tickle down works. >> what? >> how does trickle down work? show me the evidence. >> how does cutting the taxes for the rich help everybody else? thank you. we'll be right back with more "hardball" for tonight and the debate. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso.
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hey there, i'm veronica de la cruz. california drivers are paying $4.23 a gallon, 45 cents more than the average. 400 more cases of west nile along with 16 deaths. nearly 4,000 have been sickened with 163 deaths. meningitis outbreak that began in tennessee has he can spanded to five states. four people have died. let's get you back to "hardball ". welcome back to "hardball" and live from denver. mitt romney and president obama are 90 minutes from the
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beginning of the debate tonight. their vps have been in the headlines, each caught on videotape. it could provide fodder for the opponents tonight. debbie wasserman schultz, joy reid is managing editor of thegrio.com. let's take a look. >> this is deadly earnest, man. this is deadly earnest. how they can justify -- how they can justify raising tacks of the middle class has been buried the last four years. how in lord's name can they justify raising their taxes? >> well, shortly after joe biden made those remarks, mitt romney tweeted, agree with joe biden, the middle class can has been buried in the last four years we
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need to change in november. can't afford four more. and then paul ryan on the campaign trail. >> vice president biden just today said that the middle class, over the last four years has, has been, quote, buried. we agree. that means we need to stop digging by electing mitt romney the next president of the united states. >> congresswoman, is this a gaffe over language? the cost of living, would that even be a story or is it about a word that he misused or what? >> this isn't serious. this is another example of the romney campaign ripping remarks out of con tech, desperately trying to distract from the fact that candidate actually dismissed 47% of the american people, called them victims said they don't matter, said they depended on government. >> what did he mean that was misunderstood?
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>> as a result of the failed policies in the past, that president obama inherited, which crashed our economy and got us into the worst crisis since the depression, 30 months of straight job growth. >> i think he was talking about the way the tax structure -- we're still under the bush tax cuts. there's been no obama tax program. it's all what we've inherited. so either he's making the point it wasn't a fair tax point. >> i think he was talking about policies that go back over the last maybe 12 years, talking about cutting tacxes for wealth people. he's obviously provided an
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opening. god love him, joe biden, you know. >> let me get to this point. i think everybody want a headline. the word gaffe is when you say the wrong word. everybody makes a mistake in terms of language. but when you saying? like this that tells you what your philosophy is, "the huffington post" dug up a tape of paul ryan talking about how 30% of the country wants to live on welfare. in fact, they want a welfare state. it sounds a lot like romney's statement that 47% of the country wants to live like that. let's watch. >> today, 70% of americans get more benefits from the federal government in dollar value than they pay back in taxes. so you could argue we're already past that tipping point. the good news is, survey ever survey, poll after poll still shows that we are a center right
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70 sla 70/30 country. 70% of americans wants the american dream. only 30% want the welfare state. half of the people in that category are there not of their wish or their will. >> so there he is. you represent a part of florida. if you're on social security and aren't paying income taxes like you were used to, you're getting the benefits thaw earned over 40 years of working or 45 years, you're one of the problems, according to him? >> i sit on the budget committee with paul ryan. i've had an opportunity to debate him on many occasion. this is a case of birds of a feather. the only difference between mitt romney and paul ryan is 17% that they dismiss. >> why are they running around the country kiting us in half saying these bums. i don't want their votes? >> because they believe that half the country doesn't matter. they don't get that the percentage of americans that they are dismissing and calling
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victims and government dependence are our veterans or 20 million seniors who paid into medicare and social security their whole lives and now deserve to have that safety net in place for them. or college students like those that go here to the university of denver who need to make sure that they can go to college and afford it and have a student loan interest rate that's low enough for them to be able to pay back their loans. >> let's talk sheer politic, the elite ruling of the world. why, joy, does a politician trying to get 51%, as romney has been saying for months, all i need is 51, why would you write off 47? that gives you three to play with? because you only have 2% of the 52 that you're working on. that's kind of strange for a politician. >> and chris, therein lies --
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i'm glad you played both of those tapes. therein lies the difference of paul ryan, 37%, the response to the joe biden tape was to say that the american people are buried under regulation. they weren't buried under regulation. the difference between the ryan/romney tape and what joe biden said, you can feel joe biden speaking for a palpable love. hes had has a love and admiration for the average working person whereas romney and ryan showed a disdain, make it 30, 47%. people who want to be president of the united states don't typically dislike a large swath of the american people. >> congresswoman, you're out there talking to people all the time. what has been the impact -- i think 47% of the line for romney is going to go right through
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november. >> i think so, too. the poe yet mayo angelou said it best, if people show you who they are, you should believe them. we need to have a president who fights for the middle class and i think that's the clear contrast that we will see on the debate stage tonight. >> what about next week? this could be the battle of the century but next week we have the light heavyweight. you have biden against ryan. what do you think? >> that's going to be a really clear contrast as well. joe biden has fighting for the middle class and for working families for his entire career for more than 30 years and paul ryan dismisses 30% of the country depending on the welfare state. >> joy, that's going to be a battle of generations. joe has been winning elections since he was 29 back in '72. and now he's out there against this guy that's the new kid on the block. how's it going to look?
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>> i think people are going to underestimate biden. there he is. he's going to do a gaffe and mess up. what you will see up there is a guy who can speak for his generation, older people, working class people. he can zero in on those folks and say, i know she can't afford to have a voucher and shop for her medicare and when he turns to paul ryan, explain to me how you voucherize the medicare, i don't care how much the media has built up ryan as this sort of genius, he's not going to be able to answer that and they are more boxed in. don't underestimate biden. >> i want to know about the neighbor on the other side. i want to know about both of those ladies. >> lucille migilicutty. thank you very much. i love that name. debbie wasserman schultz and
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joy-ann reid. it's not just jim lehrer, but our audience has big questions for the candidates. this is "hardball," live at the site of the first presidential debate. >> are you better off than you were four years ago? ally bank. why they have a raise your rate cd. tonight our guest, thomas sargent. nobel laureate in economics, and one of the most cited economists in the world. professor sargent, can you tell me what cd rates will be in two years? no.
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"ever ask somebody to lend you a foot?" "who thinks about stuff like that?" "vince mahe grew up on two continents... and noticed that wherever you go, people have their hands full, but their feet free." "the result? a liftgate you operate with your foot." "code name?" "open sesame" "the all new twenty thirteen ford escape. it's what happens when you go further." we're back at the university of denver, just an hour before the debate of this year. and all presidential debate trick by the way is not to answer the question that was asked but to answer the question
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that a candidate wish had been asked. tonight i'm going to ask some direct questions of my own that i want answered. with me now are two political analysts, salon's editor at large, joan walsh, author of "what's the matter with white people," interesting title, i'm still pondering. and former rnc chair, michael steele, is playing the role of romney, a somewhat more difficult task. the first question for you, joan, is this. are you against school choice? if so, why do you send your daughters to private school in is choice just for the 1%, mr. president? >> chris, i love my daughters and michelle and i made the decision that was best for them. being the children of the president comes with some special burdens and we picked a school that we felt could handle that but i am for school choice. you will see in my race to the top initiative that we have expanded school choice opportunities through charter schools and some of my friends, some of my democratic party friends are not entirely happy
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with the way we've enxpanded charter schools but they are a laboratory of innovation but i have to make the choice -- >> you are for your idea choice, which is you've got to go to private out a parochial school or another kind of private school that you can go with a voucher or what we call in d.c., an opportunity scholarship? why should we let kids opt out of public school? >> there's a role for voucher programs. there's a role for the parochial schools, but chris, you know, vouchers and charter schools are not a panacea. we have enough research done that shows us that kids don't necessarily outperform public school kids using those options. and the point i need to make, chris, is that i am the president of all children. and that includes the children whose parents aren't able to exercise school choice. i want all -- >> so you answered my question my way, which is if the president gets to send his two wonderful daughters to a private school and a nice school, let's extend a little bit of liberty
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to other people. >> i'm extending a lot of liberty. >> i want to know why romney pays 13% and the tax law says you should pay 35%. it's written right there. top bracket. he makes 13 million bucks last year out of equity and he pays, what, 13%. how come? is that fair? >> well, it's fair because that's how the law is written, chris, with respect to investment. >> the law can be changed. >> well, the law can be changed and that's one of the debates we're going to have during my administration. where we look at the entire tax code and we do find that fairness and that balance in the system to make sure that everyone, to use the president's term, pays their fair share. i've paid my fair share under the law. the law says that, you know, i can take these deductions. i didn't take all the deductions that i was entitled to because of -- >> how come your party voted down to the last woman and man against the buffett rule? against requiring, in principle, that ceos pay the same tax rate as their secretaries? >> because that's just politics. that's not getting to the nub of reforming the tax code. >> it isn't? >> that's just getting out there
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and doing the typical -- >> why does it seem like the right thing to do? >> well, it seems like the right thing to do for you, chris, but what is the fair share? what is the fair number that a warren buffett or a mitt romney or myself should pay? that's going to be at one end of the debate? but how do we get others in our economy who want to be taxpayers, who want to be taxpayers, those who lost their jobs under this administration, want to be back under the administration and pay their fair share, so let's get them the jobs to do that. >> i'm not sure that was a clear response. >> it was clear. it worked for me. >> let me go to joan. the vice president biden right when he urged you to switch to an anti-terror strategy in afghanistan, just go after the terrorists, maybe from offshore, from out of the country, and get away from this counter-insurgency strategy of trying to nation build, that's cost us all these lives. was your vp right and were you wrong when you stayed with counter-insurgency? >> you know, i listened to joe biden, my vice president, chris.
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he was an important -- he played a huge role in crafting our strategy. i listened to my defense secretary. i listened to my secretary of state pip also listened to my generals. and at the end of the day, i went and visited arlington national cemetery. i went to walter reed. i saw the costs of war. and i made the best decision i could make at time, with plenty of input. but the most important thing to me was setting a deadline for our soldiers to come home, and that is happening. we are disengaging. but this question makes me wonder if you're suggesting that mitt romney would perhaps prefer that i not have sent troops into afghanistan, because he's been very vague on his own plans for afghanistan, and so far, i've seen a lot of saber rattling, chris. i'm not sure that i've seen a war that he doesn't like. i really would love to hear him answer what his plan for afghanistan truly is. >> fair enough. let's go to the tough question for governor romney. you supported the vietnam war. you were a protester, a student at stanford, for the war. i never heard of such a person.
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you were out there with placards yelling, we have to go to vietnam. we sent 2 million young men to war in vietnam. if it was worth their lives, why wasn't it worth yours or even your time? >> well, i think the premise of your question is unfair. >> well, a lot of people want the unfair question asked and answered. >> it wasn't worth my -- >> do you believe it's pacifist to not fight yourself -- >> well, there are a whole lot of reasons and decisions that were made during the time, during that war, that my family and i talked about, that i had my concerns about. but that is not what this election is about. this election is not relitigating the past of why i did or didn't go. >> the reason it's relevant, that you're going to be sending more men and women to get killed in some cases or take serious life-long wounds, and at the same time, when you had supported a war, another time
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you were for a war, you made sure other people did the fighting. >> we're trying to make sure this economy grows, but that we protect our interests here and abroad and that we want men and women who want to serve to serve. >> some of your answers requester quite adequate, others were not. thank you, michael steele, thank you, joan walsh. when we return, let me finish with what i'll be looking for from the actual candidates in about an hour. you're watching "hardball," live from the university of denver, the first presidential debate. humans -- even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why, at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at libertymutual.com. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
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let me finish tonight with what i want you to look for tonight. look for motive. why is he out there, this candidate? what's he really want to do as president? who's he for? and why does he think he should be president at this time in our history? look for passion. what turns this guy on? america? the idea behind the country? the chance for help people deal with their really hard chances. what makes the guy laugh? what makes him cry? what makes him give a damn? beneath the nice tie and suit and shined suit, what soul lies there? finally, spontaneity. the lights are on, is anybody home? does this person react to the moment? does he come alive faced with a challenge, a question he hadn't expected? does he like this arena of the mind and through it, does he love the challenge of serving and leading this country? if he has it all, motive, passion,